Against the backdrop of December 16 Delhi gang rape, a Parliamentary panel has recommended that mercy petitions should generally not be considered in cases of rape and murder and reasons for any grant of pardon should be made public.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home, while suggesting changes to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, felt that discretionary power to grant clemency should be used judiciously, particularly in cases when the courts at the higher levels have upheld death sentence.
Though the issue of clemency was not part of its mandate, the panel made suggestions after some members raised the matter, sources said.
The committee, in its report adopted on Monday, felt that the application for clemency should generally not be considered in rape and murder cases. The committee also felt that mercy petitions should be disposed of expeditiously.
Under the Constitution, the President's clemency powers can only be exercised under the advice of the government.
Article 72 gives power to the President to grant pardons, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases. "The President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence," the article says.
The recommendation assumes significance as it comes against the backdrop of demands for death penalty for the rapists of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi on December 16, last year. The girl, a paramedic, was raped and brutally assaulted by six persons in a moving bus, because of which she died 16 days later.
The committee also wanted that the reasons for granting clemency should also be made public as in the case of awarding death sentence by courts which is open for public scrutiny.